Welcome To Sextillion – Saga #4 Review

Yeah…that really is the opening page of Brian K Vaughan & Fiona Staples‘ fourth chapter of their ongoing series Saga.

When one of the bounty hunters searching for the main characters Marko, Alana  and their daughter Hazel, known only as The Will, and his sidekick Lying Cat arrive at the planet of pure hedonism called Sextillion, they are greeted by giant heads on legs wearing fishnet stockings. From then on, things only get more debauched for the Freelancer. His brief stint brings everything from a dinosaur’s plastic genitalia (yes, really) to exploding a man’s head with his bare hands and for the first time, a supporting member steals the show from the main cast. Fortunately, the other half of the book beautifully balances out these outlandish scenes.

Vaughan’s dialogue between the main cast members is wonderfully grounded in the reality. The conversations being had wouldn’t feel out of place on a TV soap opera or between a couple in real life. This can often be a difficult thing to pull off in comics but thankfully, every word is expertly crafted and every reaction seems genuine. BKV is the master of telling a long-form tale using comics (see Y: The Last Man and Ex Machina if you don’t believe me) and his pacing is perfect. There is very little traditional action, the aforementioned head explosion is as close as it gets, but the world and its inhabitants are so compelling, the book never feels too slow or plodding. We’re only four issues in to Saga but we already have a love and attachment for the setting and the people, that’s an achievement in and of itself.

As you can tell from the pages I’ve included in this review, Fiona Staples’ art is gorgeous and unique. Her style brings weight to every bold line and dash of colour. Each citizen of Vaughan’s universe,  from the grotesque residents of Sextillion to the quirky trio of heroes, has a distinct look and individuality. There’s stunning detail in every single panel, excellently rendered expressions and stunning, sweeping backgrounds.

I simply can’t finish this article without mention the 2012 Saga Reader Survey Results at the end of the book. At the back of Chapter Two, a tongue-in-cheek questionnaire was featured instead in place of a letters section. Well, it turns out that many readers (myself included) answered it and sent them. What ensues is a loud-out-loud funny three pages of the statistics behind his readership. Brian’s wit and humour are displayed nicely and its inclusion makes the already low price of $2.99 even more bang for your back.

The combination of Vaughan & Staples seems to be a match made in heaven, their work is compelling, charming and gorgeous in every way. With each phenomenal chapter, the reader finds his/herself (35% herself according to the survey) drawn in to the world and wanting more. In short, Saga might just be the best comic series going right now. Go out and get it, then come back and thank me in the comments.

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